One of the most controversial and curious subjects in modern nutrition is the place of animal protein in a healthy diet. The evidence has been building over the past twenty years that our reliance on meat and dairy foods are a mistake. Most epidemiological studies indicate that excessive consumption of meat and dairy is a primary factor in most degenerative disease. These studies, coupled with the fact that the economic and environmental damage of the modern meat and dairy industries far outweighs its social and nutritional value, do not seem to shake the public belief that animal fats and protein are essential for a healthy diet.
That more and more people reject these foods on ethical grounds related to the animal abuse sets the stage for a food fight of epic proportions.
There is certainly adequate information regarding the horrific and unhealthy conditions that factory-farming methods impose on cows, pigs, chicken, and fish as well as the many other animals that are slaughtered for food daily. Most people would not eat the meat they consume daily if they had to witness the events that brought it to market. The fact that we need around 150 billion animals killed every year to survive seems strange when we look at the physical, anthropological and nutritional facts. We can only come to one conclusion – the argument has nothing to do with nutrition, science, compassion or common sense. No – the subject of animal food consumption is ruled largely by emotion and cultural mythologies.
Against the backdrop of the linkage between animal products and the increases in heart disease, stroke, cancers and even diabetes we have to ask ourselves what kind of visions or urges could bolster the desire to continue using meat as even a small part of a healthy diet.
Several spring to mind:
- The brave hunter returns to the cave with an antelope strapped on his back, which he offers his family as they cower in the shadows of their cave.